“How much of human life is lost in waiting?” is a quote by Henry David Thoreau, the American transcendentalist and author of the seminal slow book “Walden: Or, Life in the Woods”.
It is often misused as an excuse for impatience or trying to do too much. Which is an irony if you know anything about Thoreau’s work!
Waiting is only a state of mind. In the slow philosophy, there is no such thing as waiting, only NOW.
If you are constantly waiting for something; success, happiness, fulfilment, etc you are never going to get it. We so often think “I will be happy when I get that job/I have so much money/that car/whatever” and we sit around and wait for it to come. And when (or if) it does, it is never enough and we want to the next big thing and go back to waiting to be happy…
The truth is you don’t need any of that stuff, you can be happy and fulfilled right now (I have even taught these ideas and techniques to people with chronic pain and terminal illness who have found a massive improvement in their mental state – but I may cover that very sensitive subject in a later post).
So here is a technique to become more mindful today. I learned it from a Special Forces trooper (I know some odd people, I gave a technique from a hippy on my last post!) and I guess those guys really need to be alert and mindful in the present moment, it is what keeps them alive.
But don’t worry, I am not suggesting you dash out and join the Special Forces just to become more mindful!
This technique may be familiar to you if you have done any form of advanced driving and is called “commentary walking” (but you don’t need to be walking, you can be driving, standing still, sat on the train, whatever), it is ideal to practice on your commute home from work tonight.
What you do is exactly what the name implies! You run a commentary (probably best to do it silently in your head) about what is going on around you. Employ all your senses; list three things you can see, three things you can hear, three things you can feel (both emotionally – how are you feeling at the moment? Happy? Relaxed? Tired? – and physically – what can you physically feel around you? The wind your face? The pavement under your feet?), and three things you can smell and even taste (but avoid wandering round inappropriately licking people).
Once you have gone through all five senses. Go back and start, with seeing again. Try and list three new things each time.
Why three things? I don’t know, but it seems to work. As with everything on here, these tips are not set in stone, experiment with it to see what suits you best.
Do this for just five minutes a day, and you will be surprised how much more alert and mindful (and strangely energised) you will feel!
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